Boys to men

07. 23NEWS

• David Collard says Blue Gum Lake has great significance for Nyoongar people but its story is largely unknown. Photo by Carmelo Amalfi

NYOONGAR custodian David Collard says Melville city council has approved an expansion of the Blue Gum tennis club into bushland used for initiation rites for thousands of years.

Having urged the council to show common sense before it voted on the plan, Mr Collard told the Herald he felt the council had already made up its mind.

He believed some councillors were compromised by a failure to declare they had been lobbied by members of the large club, with offers of support at October’s elections.

Mr Collard is surprised the staff report did not include any reference or acknowledgment of the site’s cultural significance.

He asked councillors on the night whether they understood the importance of the street name Moolyeen, which skirts the lake’s eastern edge.

It is a Nyoongar term to describe the place where, “business of the nose” was conducted for young men.

“for 40,000 years this site has been protected and looked after”

“This is the place where boys become men,” he said near an initiation site, just metres from the club’s northern boundary.


“Blue Gum Lake has the same significance as Wireless Hill, yet the council has done some wonderful things up there.”

Mr Collard, whose mother’s family hails from the Quairading area in the Wheatbelt, says the Bush Forever site also has two natural springs.

He says the lake formed the northern-most part of the Beeliar wetlands system stretching south through Melville, Cockburn and Kwinana.

“It’s never going to stop,” he says. “Tennis clubs will continue expanding. This club should never have been there in the first place.”

Mr Collard says while the club had been there for 40 years, “for 40,000 years this site has been protected and looked after”: “We knew once you lose a couple of metres here and there, the site will disintegrate and become smaller.”

Mr Collard is coordinator of the State Aboriginal natural resources management office based in the WA food and agriculture department. His role includes increasing Aboriginal participation in managing natural resources.

He is working with the South-West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council to develop a regional framework to boost engagement by Aboriginal people.



One response to “Boys to men

  1. So Mr Collard, whose family’s apparently not even Beeliar, reckons that this one small piece of land has been used for the same purpose for 40,000 years, based on…? The use of public land should be balanced between the whole community.

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